Are Lizards Carnivores, Herbivores, or Omnivores?

are lizard carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

As we all know, there are many different species of Lizard. In fact, there are actually over 4675 species of Lizard circulating around the world according to the San Diego Zoo. Lizards come in all different sizes, appearances, and they all have different features that make them unique. But what do lizards eat? Are lizards carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

There are a lot of species of lizards that are carnivores. However, there are also many types of lizards that are herbivores or omnivores. Herbivores only eat plants and omnivores eat a variety of plants and meats, and carnivores eat meat exclusively. So some lizards are carnivores, some are herbivores, and some are omnivores. 

In this article, we will take a look at what lizards like to eat and provide you with some facts on the various carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores that take up the lizard species. We will also provide you with a list of some examples of various lizards and what they like to eat, as well as some additional facts about lizards and their diet. 

What Do Lizards Eat?

Many species of lizard are carnivores, however, there are a few varieties that are also omnivores or herbivores. Below is a list of the most common things that lizards like to eat. Keep in mind that this is a generalized list and while many lizards do eat these things, some of them strictly eat just plants. 

The most common foods that lizards like to eat are the following:

  • Insects
  • Small mammals
  • Eggs
  • Invertebrates
  • Grasses
  • Leaves
  • Fruits
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Berries
  • Birds
  • Rodents
  • Small amphibians
  • Other reptiles

When lizards eat animals, they tend to be animals that are smaller than them. However, some of the larger varieties of lizards may eat animals that are larger than them. They can do this due to the strength in their jaw. Many larger reptiles have special teeth that allow them to inject some venom or poison into the wound on their prey which then allows them to easily eat the prey. 

Some Lizards are Herbivores

Many people believe that lizards eat insects and other animals, however, this is not always true. Some lizards are strictly vegetarian and eat no meat whatsoever. These types of lizards tend to be less common, however, many people like to have these lizards as pets as they don’t require any live food. 

Lizards that are herbivores tend to live on a diet of vegetables, fruits, leaves, grasses, and plants. There are several herbivorous lizards and, in the list below, we will take a look at some examples. 

Examples of Lizards That are Herbivores

In this section, we will take a look at some of the most common lizards that are herbivores. Below is a list of common lizards that are herbivores: 

  • Iguanas
  • Chuckwallas
  • Uromastyx


Iguanas tend to live in tropical areas around Central America, South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. These lizards eat a diet of mostly vegetation and foliage. While some iguanas can eat animals and insects, most of the time it’s best not to feed animals to them at all. 

Some varieties of iguanas are strictly vegetarian such as green and rhinoceros iguanas. These lizards may accidentally feast on insects sometimes when they are young, but they typically stick to plants. In captivity, they are usually fed exclusively plants. 


Chuckwallas tend to live in the Southwestern areas of the United States and in Northern Mexico. Their diet consists mainly of leaves, fruits, and flowers. These lizards are quite unique and tend to be less common than some other species. 

These lizards are completely herbivorous and come from very hot desert environments. If you are keeping one of these lizards as a pet, you should aim to feed them a diet of hibiscus, dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and other vegetables. They need these foods to obtain the right amount of water for their needs. 


These lizards are native to North America and the Middle East. They eat a diet that consists of mostly vegetation and plant matter. They are herbivorous in the wild and only consume a very insignificant amount of insects. 

If these lizards are being kept as a pet, then they should be fed a vegetarian diet consisting of iguana-friendly vegetables. So these types of lizards would be considered herbivores. 

Some Lizards are Carnivores

Some lizards are carnivores, meaning they feast on a variety of other animals. Most commonly carnivorous lizards will eat insects, small mammals, fish, invertebrates, eggs, birds, rodents, and other reptiles. 

Lizards can vary in size by quite a large amount. Smaller lizards will tend to stick to insects and very small animals. Larger lizards, however, can feast on larger animals and birds. Most of the time, lizards will feast on animals that are smaller than them but, on some occasions, the larger lizards may choose to dine on an animal that is slightly larger than them. 

There are several carnivorous lizards and, in the list below, we will take a look at some examples.

Examples of Lizards That are Carnivores

In this section, we will take a look at some of the most common lizards that are carnivores. Below is a list of common lizards that are carnivores:

  • Gila Monster
  • Mexican Bearded Lizard
  • Water Monitor
  • Chameleons

Gila Monster

The Gila Monster can be found in areas such as Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, California, and in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora. These are the largest lizards in the United States and often feed on birds, eggs, and small mammals. 

They have a strong bite due to their large heads and muscular jaw. When searching for prey, they will bite down and hold on while venom seeps into the wound. Due to this, these lizards are seen as quite dangerous, however, bites on humans are rarely fatal. 

Water Monitor

These carnivorous lizards are native to the Greater Sunda Islands and to the coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal. They can also come from the South China Sea from the area of Sri Lanka and can be found in areas in Southern China. These lizards are quite strong and have very long tongues. 

This carnivorous lizard tends to consume a diet of spiders, large insects, small mammals, birds, fish, and other lizards. They also often eat carrion and carcuses, which they commonly excavate and eat. There are many other types of monitor lizards as well that are also carnivores. 


Chameleons are generally found in Africa, Europe, and Asia. Many chameleons live in trees but some prefer to live in small bushes, grass, or piles of fallen leaves and branches. They don’t tend to move around very quickly, but they have a fast-firing tongue that allows them to easily catch prey. 

Most chameleons will feast on a diet of insects such as crickets, mantids, stick insects, grasshoppers, and locusts. Some larger varieties of chameleons may also eat small birds or other types of lizards. Some have been known to eat a small amount of plant material but this tends to be rare. That said since they typically stick to eating other animals they are considered carnivorous lizards. 

Some Lizards are Omnivores

Some lizards are omnivores which means they eat a varied diet of meats, insects, and plants. Many omnivorous lizards also enjoy vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, berries, bananas, and carrots. 

Omnivorous lizards can vary in size and this often determines what they are willing to eat. Some smaller lizards may choose to only eat insects rather than meats. Larger species can often eat a variety of insects, meats, and vegetables. Some larger lizards can even consume animals that are bigger than them. 

There are several omnivorous lizards and, in the list below, we will take a look at some examples.

Examples of Lizards That are Omnivores

In this section, we will take a look at some of the most common lizards that are Omnivores. Below is a list of common lizards that are Omnivores:

Rhacodactylus Geckos

These omnivorous lizards live in the islands of New Caledonia. They commonly eat fruit, insects, and sap. These lizards are becoming increasingly popular among hobbyists as pets. Due to their size, these lizards need large enclosures if being kept as a pet. 

Their diet contains many vitamins and minerals that they need to survive. These vitamins and minerals can be found in fruits, insects, and sap. Their diet should be balanced to ensure that they have a good level of nutrition.  

Argentine Black and White Tegu

The Argentine black and white tegus, also known as Salvator Merianaes, are native to the east and central areas of South America. The Argentine tegu diet consists of animals, vegetables, and fruits. 

When they are young, they should get a diet that consists of mostly invertebrates with some plants. As they got older, they tend to eat more plants. These lizards tend to be quite large, so if you are planning on having one as a pet, it will need a large enclosure. 

Blue-Tongued Skink

Blue-tongued skinks are omnivorous lizards found in Australia and eat a diet that consists mainly of insects, fruits, and berries. These lizards tend to be a popular choice for those who want to keep a lizard as a pet. They are quite small so don’t require a huge amount of space, they are easy to tame, and they eat a large variety of foods. 

If you are keeping a blue-tongued skink as a pet, then you should feed them a varied diet. This will consist mostly of insects but you can also feed them a range of other things such as ground turkey, fruits, vegetables, and eggs. 

Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are also omnivorous lizards native to Australia and live on a diet of mostly insects and plants. These lizards are very popular pets and can make great pets. 

If they are being kept as a pet, they should be fed a variety of insects and plants. Some will accept meaty foods and canned insects, but others can be a little fussy. Many people feed bearded dragons with a vibrating feeding dish as this makes non-living bugs move slightly and bearded dragons tend to respond well to this. 

Best Carnivorous Lizards To Keep As Pets

If you are looking for a lizard that you can feed exclusively other prey my top picks would be the leopard gecko, African fat-tailed gecko, or an Ackie monitor. If you are a little bit advanced the Ackie monitor is a great and exciting pick. However, the leopard gecko is typically the best lizard for beginners

Both the leopard gecko and fat-tailed gecko could actually be considered insectivores. Because they pretty much are going to be feeding on insects and worms exclusively. This actually makes them pretty simple to care for. 

The Ackie monitor on the other hand gets a bit bigger and can handle larger prey. That said, they are very small compared to other monitor lizards which is why they are one of my picks. Other larger-sized monitors can make good pets as well but I would only suggest them for advanced keepers. 

Best Lizards That Are Herbivores To Keep As Pets

They are many people that want to keep a pet lizard but are not excited about feeding them other animals. Thankfully there are some pet lizards that can be fed exclusively or almost exclusively a plant-based diet.  

That said the most commonly sold lizard that is a herbivore would probably be my last pick. That is, of course, the green iguana. These lizards are commonly sold but are not good pets for beginners. In fact, they really are not a great pet for most people. They are often aggressive and get very large. 

Instead, my top pick would be the Uromastyx. These lizards can thrive on a plant-based diet and make better pets than a green iguana. If you are an advanced keeper and want an iguana species I would suggest going for the Rhinoceros iguana instead. Though again they are not suitable for a beginner and get quite large. 

Best Lizards That Are Omnivores To Keep As Pets 

My top picks would have to be the bearded dragon, blue-tongued skink, crested geckos, gargoyle geckos, and for advanced keepers the Argentine tegu. All of these lizards make my top pick of best pet lizards. However, the argentine tegu does get quite a bit larger than the rest and is best for more experienced keepers. 

But for the right owner, they might be the best pet lizard you could ever have. That said, they take up a lot of space and can eat a ton of food. So make sure to do your research before bringing one home. 

In Summary

As you can see, there are many different species of lizards and each species has a specific diet. Some lizards are carnivores, some lizards are herbivores, and some lizards are omnivores. Their diets can vary by quite a large amount. 

In this article, we have given you some examples of lizards that are omnivores, examples of lizards that are carnivores, and examples of lizards that are herbivores. We have also explained what each of these species tends to eat and which ones make good pets. 

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